An abridged version of this article first appeared in the October 1984 issue of The Atlantic Monthly as the cover story "The Politics of the Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?" It is republished here, in its entirety, for the first time.
For anyone with insomnia in the New York metro area, the ads have become ubiquitous: three middle-aged men dressed in cornflower blue lab coats, holding mysterious technical equipment, and offering the owners of haunted houses (or haunted anything, really) their unique ghost capture and removal services.
I first saw one after falling asleep to the dulcet drawl of Charles Rose on "CBS News Nightwatch." [...]
The exhibition hall in downtown San Diego was divided by sex. By dawn on the second day of Comic Con-this was back in late July-the men figured out they were beat. Hundreds of young girls had spent the night camped out on the sidewalk and so they packed the first 50 rows of the 6000-seat convention room. The unmoving estrogen division-girls in plastic fangs, clingy tops and body glitter-sat patiently through the morning's promotional panels for disaster movies and action hero sagas. But the girls began to screech and jostle as their obsession approached: Twilight.
When the star of the young adult Twilight movie franchise, Robert Pattinson, finally took [...]